How good words turn bad

buzzwords wasteland

The items that we now categorise as weasel words, wank language and corporate buzzwords weren’t always the indefensible, indecipherable brain-slop of desk-shackled keyboard tappers.

Almost every single one began as a word or term that didn’t make you want to chainsaw it alive and throw its corpse into an abandoned quarry.

Some were very good words: think of bespoke, curate and granular.

Some were not quite so pleasing to look at or say, but had delightful original meanings: think of journey, storytelling or kicking goals.

And some were fairly plain but serviceable: think of action (the noun), drive and disrupt

Each of them has succumbed. Action has become an entirely unnecessary verb. Journey, drive and disrupt have reached epidemic proportions and have lost almost all meaning to the point where “Let’s drive a disruption journey” would now be considered a perfectly legitimate (possibly an “innovative”) sentence in many offices. Storytelling is what a lot of people who can’t tell stories profess to do exceptionally well these days. Etc, etc. 

Yes, each of the has succumbed, but not in a single, fell swoop. Instead they have succumbed in a relatively lengthy process of bollocksification. It can take many forms, but it usually goes something like this:… Read the rest

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“How’s working at McDonald’s going for you?”

Edgar McDonald's

[At a party.]

“So what do you do for a living, Johnson?”

“Uh… it’s Jonathan… I’m a… well, a writer.”

“A writer? You write books? Novels?”

“No, no, no. No. Definitely not.

“No.”

“But I do write a little thing… a little columny thing… in the paper.”

“The local paper? Well that’s nice.”

“No. The Age. And The Sydney Morning Herald. And some other ones online.”

“Oh. What do you write about?”

“Well… I dunno… stuff.”

“Stuff? As in auction prices?”

“Auction pri-? What? No. Stuff like work, life in the corporate world, management buzzwords.”

“Give me an example of one of these columns of yours.”

“Well… um… for instance… I might talk about how difficult this conversation can be.”

“Which conversation?”

“The one we’re having now. The one that starts with ‘So what do you do, Jonathan?’ ”

“Sounds fascinating. And what did you do at uni to qualify you to be a columnist?”

“Well, I’m not really… I did Arts. A Bachelor of Arts.”

“Oh. A Bachelor of Arts? Oh! Wow! How’s working at McDonald’s going for you?”

“No. Remember. Five seconds ago, I told you I don’t work at McDonald’s.”

“You did. You did. That’s right.… Read the rest

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Emoticons: an exchange

Sit down. I need to talk with you about something.

No, sit on the chair the right way round, please – you’re 45 now. And this is quite serious.

I… don’t know how to ask this, but… Are you… are you using.

You know what I’m talking about. Oh, for goodness sake – don’t make me say it. Are you using…

…emoticons.

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How to write a mission statement

How to write a mission statement

 

Although I’m best known as perhaps the best blogger in the southern hemisphere, a columnist, raconteur, literary master, social justice crusader, sartorial paragon, steamboat captain, pen-and-ink artist,  consumer advocate, curmudgeon, letter writer, copywriter, sex symbol, myki sceptic, long-suffering Melbourne Football Club supporter, linguist, Weis’ lover, wit, social media megastar, alpine strawberry farmer, custard doughnut aficionado, corporate communications observer, botanist, northern Melburnian, former blimp manufacturer and poet, my true passion is teaching.

I love to pass on my expertise to those who possess less experience, genius and general brilliance than I do. If that sounds like you (if it doesn’t, you’re probably being a bit arrogant), I invite you to delight in my wisdom on writing mission statements:… Read the rest

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More erotic fiction

A few weeks ago I published an excerpt from Cold Tequila Comfort, an erotic fiction/crime thriller hybrid I’ve been working on. The response was huge. I received emails that made me squint such was the intensity of the glowing praise within, mailed underpants, several awards, eight marriage proposals, an offer from a condom company (they wanted to name a new brand of prophylactic devices after me: Haught Naughts) and numerous other things that I can’t mention here because my wife reads this blog.

The resounding message was “we want more”, so here it is:… Read the rest

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Haught starter

Do blogs need introductory posts or do you just wade straight in and start floundering around, not like a flounder (possibly the stillest creature in the marine kingdom) at all, but like a juvenile okapi, thrashing helplessly in a particularly deep section of the Congo with your preposterously inadequate Bambi legs and a look of desperation on your face that quickly turns to a look of resignation before sinking, with the rest of your head, below the cool sheet of water which only moments ago you were lapping at contentedly?

That’s not a rhetorical question; I really really want an answer.

Speaking of a sheet of water – narcissism: that’s the only reason you’d start a blog, surely. Last week I said this to a friend who had suggested I begin putting my thoughts down for public (digital) consumption.

He said, “So – why not?”

I said: “Because it’s for narcissistic clowns.”

He said, “Then what’s stopping you?”

And he had made a good point. Nobody likes the sound of their own keystrokes more than me. Narcissus, of course, was around in a time long before it became possible for people  to self- publish earnest, illiterate and vomit-inducing poetry and make it available to every single person in the world who owns a computer and access to the internet.… Read the rest

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